Stuffed and Drunk on America

Globo says: “I had a blast on the Fourth!”

I saw four different sets of fireworks last night from a rooftop in Hermosa.

The sky over Los Angeles exploded all at once.

Fifty people gathered up on the roof to watch, spilling beers and shaking hands. Parents had their children up there and one little girl waved her glowstick around and said, “We have our own fireworks right here”, and I couldn’t help but chuckle and agree.

Before that, we spent the afternoon at the beach, drunkenly tossing a Frisbee into the surf or squinting at the Pacific, planted in our beach chairs like palm trees.


We got to the beach late. All the traffic in the city was headed one direction, West. We were caught up in it. My friend agreed to drive and I promised to sit in the passenger seat and make crude and often-unfunny jokes.

Half of Los Angeles crowds the shore from Palos Verdes to Malibu on the Fourth. After weighing our options, we decided to join them.

Once we got there, we ate sushi and terriyaki and drank Mexican beer from Styrofoam cups…

VH1 flew a banner advertising their new show I Love Money

We ended up at a house party with a bunch of Spaniards. Eating hot dogs and drinking Budweiser.

California is burning down, but we still went through the motions of blowing up fireworks and lighting sparklers.

It seemed like a fitting metaphor for the 4th of July.

God bless America, and all that…

I know, I know, the whole enterprise is so hollow. It’s just an excuse to party, and another chance for the Power Class to shove their notion of America down our throats, more messages on CNN from soldiers to loved ones back home. My wife is off in Connecticut, why can’t I don camouflage and wish her a happy Fourth on CNN? You have to wonder what the founding fathers would think of our celebrations. Would they feel sickened by how we’ve chosen to exercise our Liberty©?

Although, I’m sure Ben Franklin would approve.

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
–Ben Franklin

Despite all that cognitive awareness happening in my brain, it’s like Christmas — you might be an Atheist, but you still get a kick out of watching your nephews open their gifts. I couldn’t help it. I was tipsy and the view from the rooftop was splendid. The Santa Monica Bay’s black water reflected the moon shimmeringly, and the burst of colors in the sky was spectacular. I was enjoying myself. From where I stood, at least, looking down on the beach, listening to the peaceful banter of the neighbors, the smell of barbecue and money in the air, America deserved to feel proud on her birthday.

We’re still a young country. Birthdays still mean something to us. America is a spoiled teenager and the Fourth of July is our sweet sixteen.

Let’s get a little drunk and act obnoxious. Tomorrow we’ll go back to being serious and argumentative.

Like I said, I couldn’t help it, I’m lucky to be American.

Not proud, just lucky.

Because pride is something you have to earn, like, I’m proud of writing my novella, or graduating school, or anything you had an active part in accomplishing. I just happened to be born here. So, I consider that more luck than anything.

I wanted to come home and write about it but instead we drove back from the South Bay, watching the illegal fireworks display light up the night sky as we sat in 405 traffic, to Culver City, and a karaoke bar, where we shared a quesadilla while listening to people sing their hearts out to cheesy pop songs while their friends and co-workers hooted them on.

The night came to a close with me falling asleep without brushing my teeth, (one of the only perks of my wife being away on vacation) after engaging in a Fourth of July ritual of mine — watching the day’s recap of firework mishaps and senseless violence on the news.

I couldn’t tell if I was dreaming or if the TV were reading my thoughts — there was a definite loss of distinction going on — some time went by like this, lost between reality and the news I was hearing, a shooting in Chicago… Big Sur on fire… dolphins in a New Jersey river. My thoughts bobbed around like a rubber ducky in a Whirlpool. Fading in and out of wakefulness, and drunkenness, the one thing that kept coming up to the surface was that I was dang grateful for designated drivers!

When I woke up, my stomach had its own Manifest Destiny underway and my mouth tasted like the Spanish-American War.

I was stuffed and drunk on America.


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